Parker Jewish Institute is looking for people who would like to volunteer as a doula, going out to patients’ homes and extending the hand of reassurance, offering a smile that warms the heart and the words that say everything will be okay.
Volunteer doulas will help patients and families cope with the process of dying, remaining at the bedside as life ends. “Doula” is a Greek word that means “woman servant or caregiver.” Today it is associated with individuals who provide physical assistance and emotional support during and/or after childbirth. This proposed program aims to mirror the concept by providing the same type of support at the final phase of a terminal illness. This initiative will place a focus on planning for death with the elderly patient and family if there is one, and will provide a continuous around the clock vigil as death becomes imminent. The program will help the elderly patient who lacks family or adequate caregiver support to die comfortably, without fear of being alone.
Even when surrounded by loved ones, individuals with a terminal illness and those closest to them may feel isolated as they face the end of life. As the end of life approaches, patients and families struggle with anxiety and fear; exhaustion; loved ones often feel alone, unprepared and afraid; and opportunities to explore meaning go unaddressed. Hospice doulas provide emotional support and comfort to patients and their loved ones in the final phase of a terminal illness.
Doulas typically work as part of a team so that someone is always available to be with the person who is dying. They usually sit quietly with a patient, talk with them and offer support, comfort and companionship.
Volunteers receive training that teaches techniques for the best ways to support a dying person, strategies to relieve overburdened family members, how to organize a “legacy project” to help capture the patient’s life, assisting at the moment of death and helping loved ones process their grief in the weeks that follow.
Call the The Parker Institute’s program coordinator at 718-289-2134, or email firstname.lastname@example.org to learn more about the program and to attend a seminar.